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Clostridium Difficile

Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 11 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many deaths have been caused by the bacterium Clostridium difficile in (a) Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS and (b) England in the last three years; and what guidance her Department has issued to (i) hospitals and (ii) primary care trusts on preventing such deaths. (83738)

The data requested is not available centrally. The Office for National Statistics published figures on the number of deaths where Clostridium difficile was mentioned on the death certificate from 1999 to 2004 in Health Statistics Quarterly 30 in May 2006. The number of deaths where Clostridium difficile was mentioned on the death certificate and the number where it was also the underlying cause of death are given in the following table. The full paper is available at www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_health/HS0 30.pdf. A copy has been placed in the Library.

Number of death certificates with Clostridium difficile mentioned and as the underlying cause, England, 2002-04

Mentioned

Underlying cause

2002

1,338

709

2003

1,702

912

2004

2,155

1,187

A joint professional letter from the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Nursing Officer went out to NHS trusts in December 2005 to remind them of the importance of this infection. This letter listed the key actions to control Clostridium difficle and highlighted the guidance available.1,2 The letter is available at www.dh.gov.uk/assetroot/04/12/55/23/04125523.pdf. A copy has been placed in the Library.

As part of our delivery programme “Saving lives: a delivery programme to reduce healthcare associated infections including MRSA” a high impact intervention that is a tool to help reduce Clostridium difficile infections was published in June 2006.

A simple guide to Clostridium difficile is also available on the Department’s website at www.dh.gov.uk/assetroot/04/ll/58/84/04115884.pdf. A copy has been placed in the Library.

1 Clostridium Difficile Infection, Prevention and Management A Report by a Department of Health/PHLS joint working group. 1994

2 Guidelines for optimal surveillance of Clostridium difficile infection in hospitals Brazier JS and Duerden BI. Guidelines for optimal surveillance of Clostridium difficile infection in hospitals. Comm.Dis.Pub.Health. 1998:1;(4) 229-230.